Yonahlossee and Catawba: Mountain Summer Camps of the Past

This post was originally posted on July 7, 2017.

Summer’s cool temperatures in the Blue Ridge Mountains have beckoned tourists and visitors to the area for over a century. The area has also been a destination for school-aged students attending several weeks long, overnight recreational camps in the mountains.

The histories of two camps, in particular, have fascinating pasts — especially since neither are still in existence: Camp Yonahlossee and Camp Catawba. Their histories are preserved in the W.L. Eury Appalachian Collection in Belk Library and Information Commons’ Special Collections at Appalachian State University.

Camp Yonahlossee

Camp Yonahlossee, once located near Blowing Rock, North Carolina, was a summer camp for young women that operated from 1922 to the late 1980s. The camp was founded by Dr. Adam Perry (A.P.) and Mrs. Margaret Kephart, educators from Greensboro, North Carolina. Camp Yonahlossee was the female counterpart to the boys’ Camp Yonahnoka located nearby in Linville, North Carolina. In 1954, the camp was sold to Mr. and Mrs. George M. McCord and Mrs. Agnes Jeter. The camp’s primary focus was outdoor recreation with programs including horseback riding, archery, rifle shooting, swimming, sailing, and fencing. Crafts and dance were also taught. The camp closed in the 1980s and became a resort focused on equestrian activities.

The archival collection related to Camp Yonahlossee features materials related to camp life, its administration, and its history. Extensive photographs (such as those pictured below) and scrapbooks also illustrate the Camp Yonahlossee experience throughout its operation. To learn more, visit the collection guide: https://appstate-speccoll.lyrasistechnology.org/repositories/2/resources/749

Archery at Camp Yonahlossee

Campers learn archery, 1950s. Photo from AC. 687, Camp Yonahlossee Collection, Box 3.

Jumping horses at Camp Yonahlossee

A Camp Yonahlossee camper jumps her horse, 1920s. Photo from AC. 687, Camp Yonahlossee Collection, Box 3.

Girl playing a dulcimer

 A Yonahlossee camper learns to play the dulcimer. Photo from AC. 687, Camp Yonahlossee Collection, Box 3.

Girls with a snake

Yonahlossee campers handle a snake. Photo from AC. 687, Camp Yonahlossee Collection, Box 3.

Water activities photographed through a life preserver

Camp Yonahlossee campers in the camp pool. Photo from AC. 687, Camp Yonahlossee Collection, Box 3.

Camp Catawba

Camp Catawba was a summer camp for boys that operated from 1944 to 1970. It was formerly located near Blowing Rock, North Carolina, near what is now the Moses H. Cone Memorial Park on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The camp was founded by Dr. Vera Lachmann, a poet and professor of classics, whose German-Jewish background forced her to seek refuge in the United States in the 1930s. Focused on a balance of recreation and the arts, the summer camp’s activities were especially influenced by Lachmann’s expertise in the classics and literature. Activities included horseback riding, hiking, swimming, archery, as well as dramatic performances of Shakespeare, Aristophanes, and Chekov, bedtime stories from The Odyssey and the The Illiad, and musical instruction under the direction of microtonal concert musician and composer Tui St. George Tucker.

The archival collection related to Camp Catawba documents the operation of the camp and its history, and includes correspondence with campers and counselors, as well as ephemera and sound recordings related to the camp. Additionally, this collection contains materials related to the camp’s founder, Vera Lachmann, such as poetry composed by Lachmann and her personal correspondence. To learn more, visit the collection guide: https://appstate-speccoll.lyrasistechnology.org/repositories/2/resources/1128

Read more about Camp Catawba on the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation’s website: https://www.brpfoundation.org/blog/remembering-camp-catawba


Two boys play chess outside

Camp Catawba campers playing chess.  All photos from AC. 214, Camp Catawba and Vera Lachmann Papers, Boxes 3 and 8.

Campers ride horses on a trail

Camp Catawba campers participate in horseback riding.

Campers sing outside of a camp building

Camp Catawba campers with camp music teacher Tui St. George Tucker (middle in dark pants), playing recorders. 

Campers on the Camp Catawba truck

The Camp Catawba truck.

Campers sing

 Camp Catawba campers in song. 

Vera Lachmann leads campers on a hiking trail

Camp Catawba founder and director Vera Lachmann leads a hike through the woods.


The Camp Yonahlossee and Camp Catawba archival collections are both available for research. For access or more information, please contact spcoll@appstate.edu or 828–262–4041.


--Blog contributed by Greta Browning, Reference & Instruction Archivist

Girl starting a fire, Camp Yonahlossee
Published: Jun 9, 2021 4:03pm